by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Single-use plastic bags are a miracle of modern technology. Cheap, light, convenient, and ubiquitous, they provide an elegant solution to a problem. If you recycle them, as most people do, and put your rubbish in them, that creates a net reduction in carbon emissions compared with buying the heavier, thicker garbage bags sold in stores. Best of all, they’re sanitary.
Cue up a head-spinning headline: San Francisco has just banned the use of reusable tote bags and switched back to single-use plastic bags to help fight the spread of the coronavirus. In New Hampshire, on March 21, Governor Chris Sununu signed an executive order to the same effect. Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker followed suit on March 25. A Maine ban on plastic bags was due to take effect on April 22 but has just been pushed back until next year.
Whoever could have warned us that cloth tote bags were unhygienic? Well, there was this New York Post columnist who wrote, six years ago, “Reusing that Earth-friendly tote gradually turns it into a chemical weapon” and noted that plastic-bag bans were associated in one study with a 46 percent increase in death from food-borne illnesses. Cloth tote bags are inconvenient, they’re eco-unfriendly (more carbon emissions than single-use plastic, unless you use them more than 14 times, which people tend not to do), and oh, by the way, they’re deadly.
So what was the impetus behind plastic-bag bans in the first place? Liberals find plastic annoying. Think of liberalism as the teen girl Disgust from the movie Inside Out, who comically overreacts to everything that makes her uncomfortable. Except when liberals say “Ew,” they quell their emotional reactions with regulation.
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